Get me off my butt.
April 19, 2011 4:50 PM   Subscribe

After getting married, and starting a new (temporarily lower paying) job, money is tight. During the wedding planning, I thought, "Man, when I have the money again, I'd love to get back to rock climbing or take a French class". Well, the money is still tight, and looks to be for a while. What are some hobbies I can pick up that would cost very little to no money per month?

Some hobbies I've had before, but are too expensive or otherwise not right for me right now:

- Rock climbing - gym is too costly, so is equipment
- Crafting/Painting - supplies are expensive, and end up with a bunch of "junk"
- Cycling - I have a nice bike, but I don't have the health/energy for it right now. Plus, I ride to/from work everyday and run a few miles after work 3-4 times a week.
- Sports leagues - I've done the Philadelphia Sports Network leagues twice, most recently bowling, and two summers ago I did wiffle ball. I'm only moderately athletic (probably couldn't do basketball or soccer), and it's costly.
- Computer games - My drugs of choice have in the past been WoW pretty hard core, Minecraft, and console games such as Fallout 3 and New Vegas, Assassin's Creed, etc. Problem right now is lack of good gaming computer, and our best computer's monitor is our TV and the hubs is a TV hog (which is fine).
- Volunteering - I've been trying to volunteer with PAWS, a local rescue organization, but they often require people to transport dogs, and I can't drive. I also can't normally make it there at nights after work in time for dog walking, which is when they are most in need.
- Drinkin' - Obviously expensive, and I've been thinking of cutting back due to a medication change. No sommelier classes for me.

Some things I dream of doing, but due to cost/circumstance are out of my reach:

- Gardening - We have a small patio that barely gets any sun, and sometimes gets filled with trash due to terrible neighbors. We don't have roof access.
- Raising goats - I know, but I've been obsessed with this one. Obviously not an option in a city environment with only a small concrete patio. Someday...
- Modeling - OK, I kind of do this for friends, but it's not something I seriously think I could be successful at doing, even as an amateur. I don't mind being in front of the camera, however.

I'm looking at a budget of less than $15 a month. I can't drive (for now), and that $15 a month includes transportation costs. Exercise-type activities are OK, but I still have my aerobic stuff a few times a week. Nights and weekends are when I'm most available. Obviously, getting paid for something (like tutoring) or getting something back (CSA) are good, but definitely not necessary. I'm not very good with commitment, though. I live in Philadelphia, PA, for those who are not familiar with me, and if it's important, I'm a moderately athletic 26 year old female. Any computer-type activities are pretty much out, but I have one work Macbook Air that is accessible for lighter things like word processing and internet browsing.

Looking forward to your ideas and suggestions!
posted by two lights above the sea to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (43 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have an iPod or can you use your MacBook to take French (or other language) classes in podcast form on iTunes?
posted by cecic at 5:04 PM on April 19, 2011

Best answer: Since you already seem to be a poet, maybe taking up a musical instrument would be good idea. Guitar is an obvious, portable, and relatively cheep option, and is something you could haul around with you if you ever feel comfortable enough playing out. I'd imagine you could get a cheep piano fairly cheaply if you wanted to go that route, and piano is a fantastic foundation in music theory should you decide to switch to another instrument later on.

Music stores will rent instruments cheaply, and it's a good bet that you know at least one person who will loan you a guitar (everybody plays guitar). Music is something you can share with others as often (or infrequently) as you like, and if you do end up playing out, you may get some tips out of it (or, of course, become wildly famous and wealthy).

I find this site to be handy when I want to know something about playing guitar. I use it often enough that I donate to it when I can, but you don't need to.

Also, libraries.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:07 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Could you look for some different volunteering opportunities that are more suitable to your times/transport? Particularly ones that fit your dreams - a community garden or a scheme to help elderly people keep their gardens in good condition, or a city farm with goats or other livestock. If you've enjoyed crafting/painting in the past, maybe a youth club or social club for the elderly where you can teach others some of the techniques you've learned while using their materials.

You mentioned learning languages - you could look for a language swap with someone that'll meet at your home so you don't have to pay for drinks in a cafe/bar - advertise on Craigslist or on local noticeboards for a French speaker who wants to improve their English and trade practice or tutoring time.

This doesn't really constitute a hobby but is my new favourite thing-to-do-that-costs-no-money: clothes swaps. Get a bunch of friends round to your house one evening, everyone brings reasonable quality garments that they don't wear any more, and gets to take away as many as they bring. There's one in a bar near me every other month and I have got some awesome stuff - and I get such a thrill out of the fact they were free! If you get everyone to bring a bottle it'll be cheap and fun.

And finally: While there are months of fine, light nights ahead (I assume that's the case - sorry, I don't know much about Philly, but it is at least spring, I guess), just downloading some free podcasts and going for long evening walks in neighbourhoods you've never explored before might be nice. Especially if there's a podcast on goat rearing in French.
posted by penguin pie at 5:07 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

You discounted the entire possibility of volunteering because there's one organization that doesn't work with your schedule and resources? Try another one.

I don't mean to be accusatory so please don't be offended, but it sounds like you are stuck in a really self-defeating attitude right now. There are lots of free activities in a big city like Philadelphia -- check out the community fliers board at a local coffee shop, for example, and try a bunch of them. Instead of waiting for someone on the Internet to come along and give you the perfect suggestion, keep an open mind and try something new.
posted by telegraph at 5:07 PM on April 19, 2011

I tutor at-risk youth in the evenings, and I take public transport to get there (do your $15 have to cover bus tickets, or do you get a free bus pass through work?). I love doing it, and it's very rewarding as I get to improve my community while meeting great people and bonding with adorable kids. If you look into it now, there'll be plenty of time for you to get trained in time for summer programs.
posted by halogen at 5:14 PM on April 19, 2011

I'm not very good with commitment, though.

Oh, missed that – most volunteer organizations that involve any amount of training will ask for some sort of commitment, usually on the scale of six months to a year. Might not be what you're looking for.
posted by halogen at 5:15 PM on April 19, 2011

If you already have a halfway decent camera*, photography is a free hobby that involves getting out of the house, looking at the world in a new way, and creating stuff! Plus it's extra-great for pedestrians!

* it's easy to get all gearheaded and think you need all kinds of expensive crap to take good pictures, but don't be fooled. If you point it at the right stuff you'll get amazing pictures with any old thing (though you may be more limited in how dimly lit it can be, or how big you can print)
posted by aubilenon at 5:15 PM on April 19, 2011 [3 favorites]

I agree with aubilenon - I have a full setup for photography (I am a gearhead) however I can take just as good of pictures with a point and's amazing what you can do with one...even with a smart phone camera
posted by Hands of Manos at 5:33 PM on April 19, 2011

Best answer: Drawing.

All you really need is a pencil, an eraser, and paper. Possibly a sharpener if you're using a wooden pencil, but I just use the mechanical ones.
posted by spinifex23 at 5:33 PM on April 19, 2011 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: You discounted the entire possibility of volunteering because there's one organization that doesn't work with your schedule and resources? Try another one. ... There are lots of free activities in a big city like Philadelphia -- check out the community fliers board at a local coffee shop, for example, and try a bunch of them. Instead of waiting for someone on the Internet to come along and give you the perfect suggestion, keep an open mind and try something new.

Whoa nelly! I know there are free things to do in Philly, but I was thinking I'd come here for more specific suggestions instead of blindly wandering the city hoping to stumble upon something or trying a dozen things before finding the "perfect" fit. This is my community board. If you don't like the question, don't answer it.

Loads of great suggestions already, including guitar, which didn't even occur to me. Thanks!!
posted by two lights above the sea at 5:34 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Have you considered volunteering in the arts?

My in-laws ushered at their local performing arts center, and they enjoyed the work because they were able to see shows for free (yay! Budget-friendly!). I saw from your profile that you were from Philly; don't know if you are still there, but these theaters use volunteer ushers. And if you aren't there, you could search to find other opportunities near you.

You could also teach a poetry workshop or join one. You might consider learning how to be a live model for an art class since you are comfortable in front of the camera.

Volunteering at a library was also a good suggestion.
posted by misha at 5:37 PM on April 19, 2011

You can go climbing outside for almost no money. Presumably if you were into climbing before you already have a harness and shoes. The only other cost is beer for the friend that has a rope and is willing to take you along.
posted by foodgeek at 5:39 PM on April 19, 2011

Crafting/Painting - supplies are expensive, and end up with a bunch of "junk"

you could try drawing - all you need is a sketchbook and a pencil. you could even go wild and get various coloured pencils, and still spend less than $20. *and* the end result is a book that you've filled yourself
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 5:44 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

The RECenters around here use volunteers and you get to take a free class in return. Check the community pools/recreation centers near you.
posted by anaelith at 5:54 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can you find a community garden, urban farm, or even a real farm to volunteer with? You'd get your gardening fix and sometimes larger scale farms pay their volunteers in produce.
posted by slow graffiti at 5:56 PM on April 19, 2011

Check around at rock climbing gyms -- when I was in grad school, the gym I climbed at was always in need of belayers for n00bs, singletons, and children's birthday parties. We came in for a training and "exam" and the gym added us to their list. Every time I belayed (I think a "shift" was two hours), I got a voucher for a free climbing slot for two hours. Nights and weekends were when they needed us, and you got to know other volunteer belayers to trade belaying with when you came in for YOUR climbing.

I owned my own harness and had a pair of shoes I liked; the gym provided all other equipment. You could also borrow harnesses. As you got to be a regular they'd let the volunteers stay and climb after hours and so forth.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:04 PM on April 19, 2011

speaking of drawing, lots of people started their animation-illustration-art career from this, The Drawing Board.

Shane Glines started the board (he had a hand in the 90's Batman Animated Series) and it's been going strong ever since.

So you'd need a scanner (I believe people are just giving those things away now), a pencil and paper. and you're all set - no matter what level you are.
posted by Hands of Manos at 6:11 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Geocaching??

If you have a smart phone you have all you need to start. It's kind of exercise with a goal? There seem to be about 90 within 3 miles of you.
posted by beccaj at 6:20 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Livemocha is a great language swap which is just basically web browsing with sound.
posted by mkb at 6:28 PM on April 19, 2011

Well, reading is free. Do some directed reading, like a free iTunes course in literature or history or something. Books, obviously, from the library. Inter-library loan will get you more obscure texts you might need.

Or pick a year. Read the best sellers, the newspapers, the current political screeds, watch the movies, listen to the radio shows, etc. Become an expert on a year, maybe one that's meaningful in your family, like the year one of your parents was born, or a grandparent went to war.

You're married now, so maybe now is time to think about tracking genealogy. Do both sides, yours and his.

Or maybe read everything by a favorite author, and then by all his/her friends, too. Or if you have a genre favorite, read the award winners in that genre for every year since you were born.

Sorry, my suggestions are all kinda sedentary!
posted by clone boulevard at 6:58 PM on April 19, 2011

posted by milarepa at 7:23 PM on April 19, 2011

2nding Geocaching. It's lots of fun and gets me out of the house, and motivates me to exercise.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:45 PM on April 19, 2011

Learn to play the recorder. It's kind of like chess in that the basics are fairly simple, but you can spend a lifetime actually getting good at it. Bypass the plastic ones--a serviceable soprano recorder is 20 bucks, same as in town--and if you dabble for a while and then lose interest, it hardly takes up any space at all tucked away in the back of a drawer.
posted by SomeTrickPony at 8:09 PM on April 19, 2011

Pick-up games of your sport of choice. Not a league, a pick-up game. There's no commitment and nothing to pay. The general level of athleticism and skill is lower than in leagues and is very variable - no one cares about your skill level and athleticism because there are lots of guys at your level already showing up. And it's so much friendlier and less competitive than the leagues - leagues seem to suck the fun out of playing with the competitiveness.

They can be hard to find, but you can ask around. is also a good resource for pick-up games. And you could just drive by the nearest field / court - if the players are wearing the same colors it's a league, and if they're doing light shirts vs dark shirts or shirts vs skins it's a pick-up game. I moved to a new city last year and stumbled upon a pick-up soccer game accidentally. It's been great - no cost, no commitment, just show up for fun.
posted by Tehhund at 8:30 PM on April 19, 2011

From The Simple Dollar:
100 Free Things to Do During a Money-Free weekend
(most of which are couple/group activities)


50 Ways to Have Fun By Yourself on the Cheap
posted by CathyG at 8:51 PM on April 19, 2011 [10 favorites]

Cooking or baking? Spend the $15 on the ingredients that aren't part of your normal food budget. Other than that, you've gotta eat anyway. Maybe try an "exotic" cuisine that you would normally only get at a restaurant. (Bonus: Not feeling deprived that you can't afford to eat out.)

Sushi is a good choice if it's not already part of your normal repertoire. Everything is cheap but the fish, and if you make veggie rolls or use yummy tinned eel, it's even cheaper. Plus, it's an art form!
posted by Knowyournuts at 9:11 PM on April 19, 2011

i'm gonna third drawing. when i was a kid my parents were broke and didn't really buy us much in the way of expensive entertainment or craft supplies. i learned how to draw on whatever was around- scratch paper, notebooks, pens, pencils. it doesn't matter. the important part of learning how to draw isn't so much the pencil-to-paper part, but the eyeball-to-hand part. you have to practice seeing. and you can put that on paper with just about anything. besides, you can find an interesting niche this way. i knew a guy who made these amazing pieces completely with gel pens. and i'm better at drawing with a ball point pen than most people i know, just because it was more or less the medium i learned on. (i don't know how to paint with oils and i'm better off because that stuff is expensive!)

same goes for origami. you can just tear any old piece of scrap paper into a square and go nuts. make a bunch of paper cranes and string them up with thread!

i also agree with chess. i've just recently started learning it myself and i love how deliciously cheap and engaging it is.

you could also start working on your novel. or play jeopardy with yourself! (I DVR jeopardy and loosely keep track of how many of the answers i know from day to day. i don't have time now but think it would be fun to turn it into more of a game where i keep track of my daily scores so i can try to beat them.) in general i just find it fun to learn trivia type stuff, although deep down i hope it WILL pay off someday if i can actually get on jeopardy!

upon preview: knowyournuts said just what i was going to say, about playing around with baking/ cooking- after all, that's already part of your budget. lots of great recipes don't necessarily have exotic or expensive ingredients, they just take a lot of work to make. like apple pie from scratch, yum.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 9:22 PM on April 19, 2011

I know you say basketball is out

but it's cheap and there's nothing saying you gotta have people to play with

Put them headphones on and work on that allen iverson jab step and at some point you'll feel like a dancer
posted by past at 9:55 PM on April 19, 2011

If you like computer games you can probably find older ones that will work ok on your lower spec PC. If you're into MMORPGs Runescape can be played for free and even the paid version has a low monthly subscription.

Board and card games can be great. If it's your thing you can get a lifetime of challenge and pleasure from chess, backgammon, Scrabble etc for a pretty small one time cost. The same with bridge or poker, though obviously you wouldn't play for money.

But given the headline was "Get me off my butt" maybe you want something more physical.
posted by philipy at 10:01 PM on April 19, 2011

You have a nice bike and know how to ride? There are tons of great volunteer groups organizing around cycling or bike access, and there are evening rides of all levels -- a meander around the city with a pack of people is way different than trying to fight traffic on your own. Neighborhood Bike Works "is a nonprofit educational organization in Philadelphia that seeks to increase opportunities for urban youth in underserved neighborhoods in greater Philadelphia by offering educational, recreational, and career-building opportunities through bicycling; it also promotes cycling as a healthy, affordable, environment-friendly form of transportation."

Philly Bike Club - Sunny Sunday Afternoon D Ride. 12:00 Noon. Casual ride, well-suited for improving skills and group riding. Instruction provided as needed. Distance and speed will be dictated by the abilities of the group, and we will re-group as needed. No one is left behind. Check the Calendar on the WEB site for weekly details and contact info for the ride leader or call Bonnie Prest-Thal (718-344-2977), the D Ride Coordinator. You must wear a helmet; bring something to eat and drink; and check your air pressure on your tires and pump them if needed before you come to the ride. Bring an extra tube for your tire. Coordinator: Bonnie Prest-Thal, 718-344-2977,

Compost Co-op (!)

French Cafe - "Welcome to French Café, your doorway to the French-speaking world. Right here in Philadelphia, you'll find French-based cultural activities, movies, museum visits, plays, concerts, sparkling conversation, new friends and exciting experiences! We're a very open, fun and friendly meetup group and we have something for everyone, from the curious who just appreciates the culture, to the intermediate or advanced French language learner who wants to practice, to the French-speaking expatriate who would like to reminisce with other expats."

Co-ed pickup softball.

Dignity Housing, a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing and social services for the homeless, is looking for volunteers! The Rittenhouse Square Flower Market for Children’s Charities is hosting the 97th year of its signature French flower market in Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square on May 4th and 5th from 9:00-6:00 p.m. The sales of the event will benefit Dignity Housing's After-School Program, along with three other children’s health and welfare service organizations. Dignity is looking for volunteers to help out with the flower sale booths during the event. Please contact Megan Barnes at for more information.

Get Out the Vote with the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition (PICC): Through our ongoing effort to register new citizens to vote at their naturalization ceremonies, PICC has registered over 4,000 immigrant voters in the city of Philadelphia alone! Our civic engagement work cannot stop there, though. Over the next month, PICC volunteers will call these voters to encourage them to learn more about the candidates and to go to the polls on May 17.
[note: these campaigns are often very social and you will meet other people and actually have fun!]

Big Sisters. Other tutoring as a volunteer.

Pick a bunch of recipes you'd like to try with limited ingredients. Perfect your ability to bake a cake from scratch. Learn to identify local plants. Record the news for the visually impaired. Volunteer at an animal rescue shelter, not transporting dogs. Or volunteer with a local rescue organization - they always need help at events or with the website or with photos of the dogs. Volunteer with a fair housing group. Swap on Paperbackswap, you'd be out the media rate to ship the books, but you could limit that to 1 a month. Start a photo blog on the history of your neighborhood. Sit in a park and draw. Search Etsy to find out what sells, spend $10 on something at a Thrift Store or garage sale, sell for profit, repeat. Respond to Craigslist "Gig" opportunities - they are short-term paid jobs and you'd be amazed at some of the great opportunities there.

The point is that you've listed a number of things you'd like to do, then prematurely discounted them based on a short interaction or the notion that you have to do it ALL or nothing. There are so many other opportunities within your ideal dreams that you need to be careful you're not doing the adult equivalent of "BUT I'm BORED" and blaming it solely on finances. Plenty of folks without income manage to both occupy themselves and even follow their dreams. The point is -- what do you WANT to do?
posted by barnone at 10:03 PM on April 19, 2011

Best answer: Frisbee Golf is cheap and fun. It looks like your city has a course.
posted by spork at 10:12 PM on April 19, 2011

I know there are free things to do in Philly, but I was thinking I'd come here for more specific suggestions instead of blindly wandering the city hoping to stumble upon something or trying a dozen things before finding the "perfect" fit.

But here's the thing. We can give you all the specific suggestions in the world, but you're still going to have to try a bunch to see what works. It is almost NEVER a "perfect" fit upon first attempt. You might like an activity, but hate the group. Find another one! You might like the group but not be able to make their meeting time. See if anyone wants to join you on a weekend instead! You're still going to have to stumble around. That's what "trying things out" means - it doesn't mean that you will see a random suggestion here, and say AHA! That is the perfect fit! And then go forth and be a happy hobbyist forever after.

Don't look for the "perfect" fit at the "perfect" time with the most "perfect" organization. It doesn't work for finding a partner, and it doesn't really work for finding a hobby. These things are practices, not one-time events with definable characteristics. It's a relationship between you and a history, between you and your hands, between you and other volunteers or participants, between you and the world. Give up the notion of "the best" and find something good enough that works this weekend, and try it out. Maybe your hobby IS trying as many inexpensive new things as possible! Make a list of 10 categories (volunteer, arts, outdoors, cooking, kids, science, animals, whatever) and make it a mission to try one event or workshop or meeting or meet-up in each category before the beginning of July - then you'll have the rest of the summer to stick with the one you like the best! It might lessen your anxiety around being able to commit and not knowing what you want. Now you can turn lack of commitment into a bonus! You are not allowed to commit to one thing, you must try lots of things! Start a blog, call it Try Me!, and document your journey! Build up a local following and get people to invite you to strange events!

If you wait for something to clobber you over the head with a neon sign saying "Pick me! I'm the perfect match for you, forever!" then you'll always be wandering around with Advil at the ready in preparation for that exact moment, but missing the scenery along the way.

Sometimes too much choice is paralyzing. Thoughts like... "If I can do anything..... then what do I WANT to do the most?" So limit your choices - find one thing to do this Saturday morning, doesn't matter what it is, as long as it sounds interesting. Tai Chi at the park it is!
posted by barnone at 10:18 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another echo of "drawing". The book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" is amazingly great for getting started. I was astonished at what I could do after working through it.
posted by anadem at 10:20 PM on April 19, 2011

Best answer: In the same vein as guitar, try a ukulele! Smaller, cheaper to acquire a used one, more portable, easier for some to learn. Plus, it makes people smile when you play songs like "Wild Thing" on a ukulele.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 4:43 AM on April 20, 2011

Best answer: On volunteering when you don't have a set schedule:

Try One Brick. They're sort of a..."temp agency" for volunteers -- they specialize in brief, or one-day, volunteer opportunties; say, if a museum already has a bunch of volunteers for the day-to-day stuff, but needs extra people on hand for an event, that's where One Brick comes in.

You sign up with them, and then can check out their calendar of events -- and if something sounds cool, you sign up. I've only worked with them once -- a dog shelter needed some extra hands to help out with this seriously goofy-fun event where people could bring their dogs on a Circle Line cruise. I showed up that day, got some basic "here's what happens" info, they threw a t-shirt on me, and I spent the next couple hours filling goodie bags and telling people where the doggie bathroom was and helping the scoring panel at a doggie talent show. When we docked, I was done. Total time committment -- four hours.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:55 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: When I was broke, I always felt the same way. Now that I am less broke, I find that I got so used to finding free things to do, that I still don't spend that much money on hobbies...

Here are some ideas -

French: seconding language meetups and free podcasts for learning French. Even though some language meetups meet at bars or restaurants, you could always nurse a drink or soda if you don't want to spend too much...nobody would think it's strange.

Sports: Other ideas: bocce, volleyball, badminton. Depending where you play, there might not be a cost. People are really into kickball these days too.

Crafting: if you like knitting, but you don't want too much junk, knit for the homeless, premature babies, etc. As an added bonus, if you find (or start!) a group that does this, they probably have yarn donations, so it'll be free for you.

Gardening: Community gardening is so much fun! If you want less of a commitment, maybe you can share a plot w/ someone.

Two more things that will help -
1. Finding other people who share your interests and budget. You could even put an ad on craigslist - for example, beginner French conversation group in the park with a picnic (if you want to make it more serious, add an optional weekly vocab list). Or someone who wants to practice French while walking around the neighborhood. Etc. Or just build a list of people who want to go to free events together. I'm not really a people person but I find that this will motivate me to actually go (because someone else is waiting).

2. Subscribe to every listing with free events and actually add things to your calendar. It seems like a lot of your hobbies are active, but going to a gallery opening (free wine & snacks!) can be really inspiring.
posted by beyond_pink at 7:10 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Fleisher Art Memorial has free adult classes that are totally excellent. It looks like they're full up for spring, but keep your eyes peeled for sumer registration. You must become a member (30 bucks), but the classes (in general) meet weekly for several months and offer professional instruction and access to materials you might not otherwise have (kilns, lithography equipment, etc.) Certain arts can can be costly what with supplies and all, as you've said, but there's always life drawing! All you need is paper and the drawing implement of your choice! I've taken this one and it was great! Classes were about two hours long and held on a weekly basis.

If Paws is difficult for you to manage time and transportation-wise, you could try The Morris Animal Refuge. It's right in Center City.

As far as drinkin', you could try making your own hard cider. The materials are less than fifteen bucks and available locally at Home Sweet Homebrew. And you get booze AND a project! Double rad!

And totally yes to disc golf! It's exercise light! It's really more of a wandering through the woods throwing a disc at stuff. Which is really great! And it's completely free! And Sedgley woods is a great course.
posted by troublewithwolves at 7:54 AM on April 20, 2011

If geocaching sounds interesting but a gps device is too expensive, try Letterboxing instead.

(plus it's more fun than geocaching)
posted by jcrbuzz at 7:59 AM on April 20, 2011

A tin whistle can be purchased for < $10. You can find tutorials/ sheet music online.

Have you investigated everything your local public library has to offer?
posted by oceano at 9:01 AM on April 20, 2011

Best answer: Seconding board games or card games. Fun also for a cheap evening with friends or the husband. I used to have a weekly poker game - $5 buy-in, $3 re-buys for the first hour, everyone brought beer for themselves. The group was primarily starving artists and grad students. Now, I tend to play board games - Settlers of Catan, or Carcassone - with friends.

If you like to paint but not draw, I suggest experimenting with charcoal. Supplies are VERY cheap (you could get started with the best of everything for about $20) and it's more painterly and messy and fun than pencils (other people's opinion may vary). Also as a creative pursuit, if you have an iPhone 4, the camera takes very good pictures, and a service like Instagram can make it easy to experiment and be creative.

To narrow down the cooking idea a bit, would you consider bread-making or pickling? Both require very low-cost ingredients, can be made in small batches, will be tasty even when you're starting out, and will reward an investment of time. Plus, you may even save money.

Bird-watching would be another hobby that would get you outside. Cheap, used binoculars and a guidebook would be all you need to start out.
posted by psycheslamp at 9:51 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

(Sorry about the atrocious spelling/editing above! It's shocking considering the percentage of my posting I do while drinking. Apparently I'm much worse sober and sans coffee.)
posted by troublewithwolves at 10:25 AM on April 20, 2011

Best answer: nthing cooking. I recently moved to phila and live alone and theres a flood of great restaraunts I want to try, but I'm a bit skittish to go myself and I don't have friends that have disposable cash in the area so I started looking at the menus of said restaraunts and trying to make some version of the dishes that sounded good to me at home. I started mostly with comfort food that uses common, relatively cheap ingredients, but requires a certain level of patience before digging in that I never excercised before (you mean the chicken has to roast for more than an hour?!?!?!)

Cooking also compliments your former drinking hobby. You could invite friends over to eat food you make and tell them to bring libations, or just have a potluck. Nothing formal, just a ramshakle affair. Cooking also allows you to blow massive amounts of time wantering around the various markets looking for something tried and tasty or some wierd shit you want to try to make something out of (hello, pork kidney and other offal meats).

I've always wanted to compile my own set of photos of as many murals as I could. I also have some wierd idea that I want to go around to every community pool at least one time this summer and take in the chaos. For 15$ a month you could also see one concert a month in Phila. Then you could blog about that or something. If you want to model, apply to UArts, Tyler school of Art, Pennsylvania academy of fine art, Moore college of art and design, etc to be a model for their art classes. Bonus - paycheck!

If meeting new people / possible friends is on your radar, here I am in all my 26 year old female glory, free nights and weekends and I drive.
posted by WeekendJen at 12:44 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sooooo...what'd ya choose?
posted by Pecinpah at 3:57 PM on April 28, 2011

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